Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Little Emily (Kahil Bryant) has just one wish for Santa at Christmas time and this is for her mommy Nancy (Gabrielle Union) to get paid a compliment by some nice man. I must assume that the operative word here is ‘nice’ since it would be virtually impossible for Nancy to avoid a compliment from a ‘man’ be they 8 to 80 blind cripple or crazy, because little Emily, your mama’s like Foine. I was actually privileged to be at a small group interview with Gabrielle Union during the promo tour of ‘The Honeymooners’ and I was paying her so many compliments that I think she actually told me to ‘shut the f@ck up’ and then called security. Or maybe that was the other dude next to me she said that to. I forget. So with that completely silly plot device, ‘The Perfect Holiday’ is in a bit of trouble from the get go.

Our film opens with Mother Christmas (Queen Latifah) narrating about something or another. Mister Bah Humbug (Terrance Howard) is the anti Mother Christmas and is by her side complaining about something. I know it sounds odd but it kind of makes sense if you sit through the movie. Mother Christmas introduces us to our principles in Nancy who is a divorced mother of three and Benjamin (Morris Chestnut) who is just looking for his break as a struggling songwriter and is a part-time Santa at the mall. Nancy’s ex-husband is super star rapper Jizzy Gear (Charlie Murphy) who lives only to disappoint his children as well as Benjamin who he won't give the time of day. Since it’s a Rom-Com our principles need buddies and Benjamin has his in wise-cracking Jamal (Faizon Love) and Nancy her hers in girlfriends Robin (Jill Marie Jones) and Brenda (Rachel True). As we have said, little Emily sits on Part Time Santa’s lap and asks for her wish. Santa takes one look at Emily and is like ‘goldurn! – I can make that wish come true easy.’ He sees her later on, pays her a compliment at a dry cleaners which weakens her knees, but he disappears and now Nancy and her friends are going to find this man blessed with chocolate love. Their words, not mine.

Anyway, they meet and he lies about what he does, though I’m not sure why. They have this fantastic love thing brewing but Nancy’s oldest boy John-John (Malik Hammond) hates Benjamin because he wants his parents back together. So John-John goes and asks Santa, who is Benjamin don’t forget, to make Benjamin disappear. John-John looks like he’s about fourteen and is probably too old to be sitting on Santa’s lap asking for stupid stuff but there you go. As you can guess things start to get out of hand particularly when Jizzy makes the struggling lying songwriter an offer for one of his songs which leads to mayhem chaos confusion and theoretically hilarity.

Following a couple weeks after the vastly more entertaining African American holiday ensemble ‘This Christmas’, ‘Perfect Holiday’ isn’t the worst movie around, but it is pretty darned close. The talent is certainly there with a pair charming and good looking leads with both having spectacular teeth and are in their FOURTH movie together. Charlie Murphy, Faizon Love and Katt Williams are along for the ride and all three have their moments. The child actors were really good and then of course there’s Rachel True who is easily one of the worlds most beautiful women, even more so than Gabrielle. Call me.

However Director Lance Rivera wastes most of this talent on a script that is strictly by the numbers and is about as predictable as a Rocky movie and as intelligent as a Rocky and Bullwinkle Cartoon, which is probably selling Rocky and Bullwinkle a little short. I remember being a kid and my folks taking me down to the mall to sit on Santa's lap. Once. It seems Nancy and her kids went to the mall every freaking day to sit on Santa's lap and beg for stuff. Nancy seriously needs to think about getting a freaking job. And then there was the peculiar presence of Academy Award Nominee Terence Howard who I believe is indebted to Queen Latifah for giving him his first role in her TV show 'Living Single' back in the day. Hopefully T. Howard's debt is paid in full. After a while, watching this exercise in syrupy sappy predictability started to actually become physically painful and we were only rescued by the eventual end credits which further cursed us by having a scene within them as well. Hopefully T. Howard's debt is paid in full. Even my wife didn't like this movie and she likes practically anything with Black people in it.

Charlie Murphy, Faizon Love and Katt Williams are funny and they had their moments in this flick but their mere presence couldn't save 'A Perfect Holiday'. Let's hope this thing won't graduate to perennial status forcing us to avoid it every year for the next century or so.

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